White Balance – Tips and Tricks
White balance in an essential key to editing. Once you understand white balance, and you start to recognize the colors and tints that each image has, you can move away from completely neutral images and create your own individual editing style. The most important key to white balance is creating consistency.
To understand how to white balance, we need to understand what white balance is.
What is White Balance?
White balance is the process of adjusting the colors of an image through temperature and tint to remove any color casts, so that the colors appear in the picture as we actually saw them in person. In real life, our eyes automatically white balance the things we see. However, most light sources do not emit pure white light.
Like photography, once you understand the rules of editing white balance, you can break them to create your own individual editing style. But it’s good to train your eye to see the different colors and tints that make up your images.
White balance is broken down into warm or cool temperature, with green or magenta tints. A perfectly white balanced image would be completely neutral, a pure white, for example.
Note: Most photographers that we work with at Post Partner will white balance for skin tone, over the pure white of a dress. But, no matter what you choose to white balance for, decide and then stick with it to keep consistency through your entire set.
There are a few ways that we can adjust white balance in Lightroom, all while using the same white balance tool.
The white balance tool inside the develop module of Lightroom consists of two sliders. One for temperature (blue to yellow), and one for tint (green to magenta). You can drag the sliders up and down depending on how warm or cool, or how green or magenta you want your image to appear.
The eyedropper tool helps create white balance by working with the neutral areas already found in each image. By clicking the eyedropper (or pressing ‘W’ on your keyboard), hoover the tool overtop of any GREY area. We always suggest grey over white, because it’s hard to find a pure white. To create the proper white balance, as the eyedropper tool is hoovering over the selected area, try to get the three numbers that appear underneath the tool to get as closely matched as possible.
KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS! Who doesn’t love a shortcut? We sure do! When you’re in the develop module, you can press ‘W’ button on your keyboard, and then adjust up and down by using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ keys.
When you use the plus and minus keys, the white balance numbers will adjust up and down by increments of 50. If you hold ‘SHIFT’ while adjusting up and down, the increments will move by steps of 200.
Note: Post Partner ALWAYS keeps white balance in rounded increments of 50. Consistency from image to image is more important than creating a minor adjustment of 5 on each image.
Lightroom has developed an awesome feature that adjusts white balance for you. In the white balance drop-down menu, you can select the lighting conditions you had while shooting. You can choose from Cloudy, Sunny, Tungsten lighting, etc. Once you’ve selected Lightroom will automatically make the adjustment for you. However, there is usually small adjustments that will still need to be made. But, it’s a great starting point if you’re not sure where to begin.
5. Quick Develop
Quick develop is a studio favourite when we’re reviewing images and checking for consistency. We do most white balance adjustments in the develop module, but quick develop allows us to look at multiple images and see if there are any discrepancies in a set.
Brandon, our principle, created a quick guide for our editing team that gives a good starting point for white balance. These ranges are a good reference point, and then you can make your adjustments from there.
- Sunrise/Sunset: 2500K
- Candlelight: 2800-3000K
- Twilight/Moonlight: 3600-4000K
- Daylight, Sunny: 5200-5500K
- Daylight, Cloudy: 5600-6200K
- Light Shade: 7000-7500K
- Deep Shade: 8000-9000K